Saturday, April 29, 2017

Christianity Among the Religions of the World (Guest Post by Jeff Hubbard)

It will be a surprise to some, but as a Pentecostal preacher I have a love of studying other religions. I have a fascination with how religion works in society, individual lives, cultures, politics, but most of all I am interested in what religion tells us about Ultimate Reality. You see, the more I learn about religion and world religions the more I learn about the God of the Bible and the more convinced I become that He is the true God of gods.
 Most Christians in the West today are so biblically illiterate that they have little or no understanding of how Christianity relates with other religions. If you were to ask the average evangelical Christian for example what they believe is different between Christianity and any other given religion they would most likely say something like "well that is a religion, Christianity is not, it is a relationship!" This is true, but it is not nearly complete.
There is another way that many Christians attempt to show that Christianity is superior to other religions: philosophy of religion. In the study of philosophy of religion apologists of various faiths and traditions attempt to use logical argumentation to prove that one religious system is more coherent than another. This is a very admirable approach, one that I engage in a lot even as I attempt to compare and clarify my own views with the views of others. Yet this process must be done in a deeply thorough way that can often be undermined by worldview issues if unexamined.
There are other apologists of various stripes that attempt to prove one faith or tradition by showing that their view is more consistent with reality and history. This too is admirable and often useful, but it to is limited by presuppositions and the availability of reliable data.
I have come to take what I believe is a much more basic view on how Christianity is related to other religions. Deuteronomy 32 and Genesis 11 give us the account of the God of gods judging the nations. In Genesis 11 God divides up the nations because of their wickedness and idolatry. Deuteronomy 32, especially 8-9 and 17 tell us that God put His divine council in charge of the nations so that each nation has its own god and pantheon. These are territorial spirits in Deuteronomy 32:17. God effectively disowned humanity at the tower of Babel to be ruled by lesser gods who would eventually become corrupt and accept worship to themselves (Psalms 82:1-2, 1 Corinthians 10, Ephesians 6). What then makes Israelite religion from all others is that YHWH the God most High chose Israel as His own portion so that they were to live under the rule and Kingship of the only Creator God and they were to be a blessing to all other nations as a nation that functions as a priestly nation toward other nations.
What makes Christianity different from all others is that God has come to rescue the nations from their rebellious supernatural lords. Jesus has made it possible for people of every nation to come to YHWH as the true Creator King. Pentecost is the moment we see God reclaim the nations He had disowned.
So from a biblical Christian worldview, other religions are deceptions of the supernatural rebels to keep those created in the image of the Creator God from living under His kingdom. This means that  the various deceptions must be identified to provide appropriate answers (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). At times this will actually require power encounter, whether through deliverance ministry or signs and wonders to show the power of Jesus to be superior to the power of the supernatural deceivers. At other times all one has to do is proclaim the news that Jesus has won the victory so that the captives of other religions can be set free. The goal remains the same, to bring people out of the kingdom of the rebellious supernatural beings into the Kingdom where YHWH is God and King in And through Jesus.

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